No federal law forbids undocumented immigrants from attending college in the U.S.
However, only 10,000 of the estimated 65,000 DACA students who graduate from high school annually end up graduating from college, according to the nonprofit Educators for Fair Consideration, via USA Today.
That’s in part because the federal government doesn’t make grants and loans available to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and other undocumented students. But aid might be available from your state, your school, or a scholarship organization.
Here’s how to find DACA financial aid.
Federal financial aid isn’t available for DACA students
There are obstacles to federal financial aid for immigrants, even if they’re eligible noncitizens.
But nearly 800,000 beneficiaries of DACA — a President Obama-era program allowing “Dreamers” to stay in the U.S. — aren’t eligible at all.
If you’re in the DACA program and have received a Social Security number, you’re able to complete the FAFSA. You’ll even receive a Student Aid Report outlining your eligibility to receive nonfederal aid.
However, the Department of Education recommends that you check with your high school counselor or college financial aid office before you fill out the FAFSA.
If you’re not a DACA student and you’re not sure about your financial aid eligibility, consult our complete guide to federal aid for immigrants.
Consult your state and school for DACA financial aid
Financial aid eligibility rules vary from state to state. Learn about your state’s financial aid programs by using the map curated by National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.
In Minnesota, for example, you’d be instructed to avoid the FAFSA and complete the state’s Dream Act application instead. Then you’d be eligible to receive a Minnesota State Grant, which awards undergraduates an average of $1,857.
During your research, you might learn that you’ll need to rack up grants and scholarships because some schools require DACA students to pay higher out-of-state tuition despite living in state. View your state’s position on awarding in-state tuition rates to undocumented immigrants via uLEAD’s useful map.
Get Me To College also hosts a list of schools that provide financial aid to undocumented students. George Mason University in Washington, D.C., for example, offers in-state tuition rates — plus need-based and merit-based aid — to DACA students.
Check out financial aid for DACA students offered by organizations
You might live in a state that’s light on financial aid for DACA students. Or maybe you built a college list full of schools that don’t offer enough aid to “Dreamers.”
Fortunately, there are organizations dedicated to your cause.
TheDream.US, for example, partners with 75 colleges in 14 states to help DACA students complete their education. The organization also received a $33 million grant in January 2018 from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his wife to continue its efforts.
If you’re a high-performing high school student who is undocumented, you also could seek a four-year scholarship via Golden Door Scholars.
Other potential sources of scholarships for DACA students include the Hispanic Scholarship Fund and QuestBridge. You can find more national and local opportunities using the Dream Educational Empowerment Program’s list of resources.
Another DACA financial aid option: Private student loans
If you’ve exhausted your hunt for scholarships and grants from your state, your school, and other organizations, you could resort to private student loans.
Unlike financial aid, loans need to be repaid over time with interest. So it’s wise to borrow only what you can reasonably expect to repay once you leave school.
Although you’re ineligible for federal loans as a DACA student, you could find reputable private lenders willing to lend to non-U.S. citizens.
Citizens Bank, for example, requires that international student borrowers have a creditworthy cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Discover’s student loans for international students have the same requirement. MPOWER Financing is one lender that doesn’t require DACA students to have a cosigner.
Shop around and compare multiple private student loan companies to ensure you receive the best possible rate and repayment term.
At the end of the day, “Dreamers” can get financial aid. Take the time to investigate your options. That way, your lack of citizenship won’t leave you lacking a great education.
Need a student loan?Here are our top student loan lenders of 2019!
|2 Important Disclosures for College Ave.
College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.
Information advertised valid as of 4/1/2019. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.
* The Sallie Mae partner referenced is not the creditor for these loans and is compensated by Sallie Mae for the referral of Smart Option Student Loan customers.
3 = Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.
4 Important Disclosures for Discover.
5 Important Disclosures for SunTrust.
Before applying for a private student loan, SunTrust recommends comparing all financial aid alternatives including grants, scholarships, and both federal and private student loans. To view and compare the available features of SunTrust private student loans, visit https://www.suntrust.com/loans/student-loans/private.
Certain restrictions and limitations may apply. SunTrust Bank reserves the right to change or discontinue this loan program without notice. Availability of all loan programs is subject to approval under the SunTrust credit policy and other criteria and may not be available in certain jurisdictions.
©2019 SunTrust Banks, Inc. SUNTRUST, the SunTrust logo and Custom Choice Loan are trademarks of SunTrust Banks, Inc. All rights reserved.
6 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
7 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
A government loan is made according to rules set by the U.S. Department of Education. Government loans have fixed interest rates, meaning that the interest rate on a government loan will never go up or down.
Government loans also permit borrowers in financial trouble to use certain options, such as income-based repayment, which may help some borrowers. Depending on the type of loan that you have, the government may discharge your loan if you die or become permanently disabled.
Depending on what type of government loan that you have, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness in exchange for performing certain types of public service. If you are an active-duty service member and you obtained your government loan before you were called to active duty, you are entitled to interest rate and repayment benefits for your loan.
A private student loan is not a government loan and is not regulated by the Department of Education. A private student loan is instead regulated like other consumer loans under both state and federal law and by the terms of the promissory note with your lender.
If your private student loan has a fixed interest rate, then that rate will never go up or down. If your private student loan has a variable interest rate, then that rate will vary depending on an index rate disclosed in your application. If the interest rate on the new private student loan is less than the interest rate on your government loans, your payments will be less if you refinance.
If you don’t pay a private student loan as agreed, the lender can refer your loan to a collection agency or sue you for the unpaid amount.
Remember also that like government loans, most private loans cannot be discharged if you file bankruptcy unless you can demonstrate that repayment of the loan would cause you an undue hardship. In most bankruptcy courts, proving undue hardship is very difficult for most borrowers.
8 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|4.07% – 11.32%2||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.50% – 11.35%*,3||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.84% – 13.49%4||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.25% – 11.30%5||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.50% – 9.47%6||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|3.74% – 9.72%7||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.45% – 12.32%8||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|